May 17th, 2014– Berkshire East Ski Resort, located about 2 hours north west of Albany NY in Charlemont MA was host to the 2nd event for the NAVY SEAL run BONEFROG CHALLENGE.
The course was 9 miles of beautiful trail runs along freshly flowing brooks from the prior nights rain, some long scaling climbs up the mountain on the ski runs, & via some cross cutting vehicle trails that connect throughout the mountain. With 44 listed obstacles on course, which the true total was in excess of 50 unique elements, Bone Frog Challenge came prepared to put together a course that could rival any of the big 3. They also added a 3.5-4 mile SPRINT course to their days schedule which also drew a large volume of racers.
I was able to attend this race on a few days notice with the aid of a new friend Bob Mulholland, Northeast & Mid-Atlantic regional OCR Photographer, who I’d officially met the week prior at the Viking Obstacle Race. He tipped me off about a race he was shooting that upcoming weekend & sent a message to Paul B of Mud and Adventure. Thanks to both gentleman and lucky for me I would be rewarded with the chance to run this amazing event. The CEO of Bone Frog Challenge, & former 13yr NAVY SEAL veteran, Brian Carney was open to my questions prior to arrival & was a very gracious host throughout the weekend along with all the BONEFROG staff & volunteers which included a number of current & retired Seals stationed throughout the course/ festival area.
This race had all the right elements for the traditional northeast OCR fall schedule -A long distance course of over 9 miles with approx 4000 ft of elevation gain/ loss, 45+ obstacles, & punishing terrain. A new trend that has recently emerged is the focal point of making an obstacle race just that, an obstacle race. BoneFrog did this beautifully by having arguably the most varied number of elements I’ve seen at a race yet. That many obstacles allows the course to be enjoyable for the couch potatoes that are coming out to try an event for their 1st time to feel satisfied with the number of obstacles they can reasonably attempt. However, this course also challenged the elite contingent on down who were in attendance.
3 monkey bar variations – approx 3-4 low crawls,
countless variations of walls & suspended log hurdles,
2 tremendous water crossings-the first of which was fairly quick into the race where you walked on a plank out to jump to & from 5 floating docks while a snow gun was blowing water into your face at about 60mph before having to jump in the water for about a 15 yd swim to shore.
The second being a series of circular tubes connected two wide that stretched across a reserve “pond” approx for 100ft which was more exhausting that initially it appeared.
A notable “obstacle” which became more a welcomed tribute ground was a burpee station remembering the 30 US servicemen killed in Extortion 17 when their Helicopter crashed. After a segment of the course at the mountains Summit that featured 10 unique tasks within a 100yd distance we were asked to recite the names of each service member that was lost & perform a burpee in their honor.
Also notable to me throughout the course was an advertised obstacle prior to the event named “Normandy”. Having done countless barbed wire crawls & under water submersions I wasn’t sure how unique it’d be going into the race. I was pleasantly surprised that the obstacle was a mix of barbed wire/ traditional rolling mud pits / & a water submersion that was tasked with literally clearing a ring of barbed wire that went below the water line itself. The little touch that made it more memorable was a taped recording of gun fire & mortars coming from a nearby speaker that added that extra element to stand out.
Festival & Facilities –
The festival area had a few vendors with an ample supply of samples, a reasonably priced BoneFrog Challenge merchandise tent, & a raffle prize drawing booth run by the Navy Seals in attendance.
OCR Gear & reps from OCR World Championship also shared a booth awarding those who put in qualifying times for their event to be held in OCTOBER 2014.
Berkshire East was a great venue. The amount of rain that dropped Friday evening which made the course quite challenging did not affect the main parking lot which, when we arrived was only about 300 ft from the registration tables.
*NO PARKING FEE or SPECTATOR FEES
The lodge for Berkshire was well kept & had great views of the festival area & finish zone obstacles if you wanted to escape the heat for a few minutes. An indoor cafeteria in the am gave way to a fairly priced outdoor grilling station for much of the event duration. The indoor café re-opened in the early evening which hosted many of the elites still in attendance to a meal after a long day. A Live band started playing around 4:30 to keep the after race festival going which even at 6pm still had a number of people walking around & recounting their battle stories from what we had all just endured.
Challenge ELITE- 9 miler
Junyong Pak –David Magida – Ethan Nedeau
Amelia Boone – Debbie Moreau – Heather Viveiros
Sprint ELITE- 4 miler
Kevin LaPlatney 1st
Kara Ferris 1st
Post race notes –
BoneFrog delivered big time on course layout & diversity of obstacles. Festival area was not simple but had all the necessary essentials & provided a great atmosphere during & post. Especially when it came to obstacle “44” which was a 10 ft flat wall climb via rope & a 15 rung suspended monkey bar cross about 15ft off the ground to close the brutal upper-body load of the course.
Spectators & the kids were well taken care of throughout with multiple options to openly explore the kids course prior to & after the scheduled kids races mid day. Lift Access to the summit of the mountain provided a most enjoyable ride up with stunning views & an action packed sequence of obstacles at the top as noted before. The one glaring critique was that of having an adequate amount of obstacle & course coverage overall to cover racer safety on course. There were a few accidental injuries that required some medical transportation off the course & in speaking with Brian Carney, they will be revising to even better handle those situations for future races.
A few post race questions asked of BoneFrog Challenge CEO, Brian Carney
1. Q: Coming off your second event, a very successful one by all reviews, what is your/ BFC staff’s overall feeling of how the event went. Attendance/ logistically.
A: We are extremely humbled by the entire event. The people that showed up to race and support Bone Frog Challenge are some of the greatest people on this planet and we simply feel honored to be a part of it all. The attendance grew by 75% from last year so that was a huge win for us as well. Logistically everything went good but the fact that we’re SEALs we aren’t happy with “good”. We want GREAT and we will continue to sharpen the sword until we have it perfect.
2. Q: As noted in another’s review, how do you & the staff see BoneFrog growing in re next 12 months?
A: We feel that Bone Frog Challenge is just about ready to hit the OCR world with both feet running. Up until this point we have been and will continue to be very methodical in every step we take to ensure that we are providing our racers with an over the top OCR event. We are not interested in getting too big to quick just to make a buck. At the end of the day all that matters is our racers and now that we have our ducks in a row we are ready to take this event on the road. With NYC being our next stop you can be assured that the Big Apple is going to see some fierce Bone Frogs come October 4th!
3. Q: As noted in others reviews, the trend for newer obstacle race companies is that of bringing MORE obstacles & not watering down the obstacles that are done. A higher volume overall allows for inclusion of those elements that not everyone will be able to do but also provide more than enough they can to feel satisfied from the experience.
A: I believe the difference between Bone Frog Challenge and other OCR’s is the fact that we are Navy SEALs and have a crystal clear understanding of what it takes to challenge people on an obstacle course. We know the value of how heights, grip strength, fatigue and swimming can test a racer and we push every aspect of those challenges into our course. Any OCR can make their racers go up and down a mountain 20x to call their race “hard” or “challenging” but we put the emphasis on the obstacles. The natural terrain just adds to the enjoyment!
4. Q: With the expansion of obstacles & their more complex nature. How do you feel safety plans & volunteer coordination was executed for this past weekend’s race & what changes do you hope to implement moving forward from feedback received.
A: Our safety/EMS personnel for this event were incredible! They are the backbone of keeping our event safe and that is something we take very seriously. That said we could never have enough of them. For future races we will be looking to have at least double the amount of EMS personnel on site and throughout the course to ensure that all obstacles are not only manned by a volunteer but also an EMS specialist.
The “Crazy A’s” – Ray & Melandie Alexander and kids-Liberty 9 Kody-Ray 7 Trinity 6